German chipmaker Infineon Technologies ( IFX) may split off its memory chip division earlier than planned and use the proceeds to acquire a Japanese chip company. In an interview published in a German newspaper, Infineon CEO Wolfgang Ziebart said the company had already separated the DRAM chip business operations from the rest of the organization, and that the division's spinoff could happen earlier than the July 1 timeframe it initially set. "We can introduce ourselves to carry out the separation faster than originally planned," Ziebart told the Financial Times Deutschland. It's still unclear whether Infineon will opt to float shares of the memory business on the public market or sell the business to another company. Ziebart said the timing of any IPO would depend on the unit's performance as well as conditions in the memory industry and in the capital markets. Infineon announced in November that it would
spin off its memory business , the world's fourth largest producer of DRAM memory, and focus on logic chips for the industrial, automotive and communications markets. The memory business accounts for roughly 40% of Infineon's revenue, but it is highly volatile. In its most recently completed quarter, Infineon posted a $225 million loss due to falling prices for DRAM chips. Ziebart also told the FT that the company might use the proceeds of the memory business divesture to finance an acquisition in Asia. He said acquiring a Japanese semiconductor firm could be a way to bolster Infineon's position in the Japanese automotive market. While Infineon is strong in the U.S. and Korean auto markets, Ziebart said the company is not strong enough in Japan, where he said it takes time to win the confidence of the Japanese auto makers. "We can shorten this by taking over a traditional Japanese semiconductor manufacturer," Ziebart said. Shares of Infineon were up 1.8%, or 17 cents, at $9.69 in recent trading.